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Why Do You Overeat ?

Posted by Aisling Murray on


It may be obvious that someone is overweight because of overeating and under-exercising. However, what is not obvious is why we over eat and what causes our binging.  It’s all well and good having an amazing, balanced meal plan to follow but it becomes redundant if you don’t address the reasons for overeating. By not combating the overeating, weight loss with be a constant battle and yoyo dieting then becomes a way of life.


Everyone has their ways and means of losing weight, some go it alone and some get help.  One common mistake people make and I see it in my clinic all the time is calorie counting. Yes, calories are important and it is savvy to have a clear indication of what the calorie content of your favourite foods. However, being over consumed by calories or counting of any sort can be tedious and short lived. Portion control is a much easier method to avoiding over eating. In order to maintain a healthy balanced diet its vital to identify the reason you over eat.


You are bored

Boredom is one of the main causes for overeating. Overeating due to boredom often occurs when you are not hungry; the food rarely satisfies you due to lack of hunger. It’s also another form of procrastinating; eating takes the place of doing something else. When you eat out of boredom the food choices also tend to be high in fat, sugar and salt or processed in some way.


Late night eating

This can present itself in a few ways. Bad planning is the main cause of this. If you have not planned your dinner, then you may find yourself reaching for the takeout menu for convenience reasons. Preparing dinner too late can also lead to snacking prior or during dinner preparation and the majority of these snacks tend to be unhealthy.

Winding down at the end of the night is another cause of over eating. We all know the feeling of getting comfortable on the couch after a long day and having a snack to accompany the T.V, laptop, kindle, book or whatever form of entertainment you choose. This can lead to lack of attention regarding the food you are consuming meaning you may have no idea how much you are actually eating. In order to avoid late night snacking, plan out your meals and prepare your dinner from fresh ingredients. If you need a snack prior to dinner have some fruit.


Comfort eating

Comfort over eating can be tricky to curb as it’s controlled by how you feel emotionally, not your hunger. When I mention comfort eating I do not mean having food from time to time as a pick me up or to celebrate something. Emotional eating is used as a coping mechanism by individuals, when they get bad news, are stressed, lonely, anxious, angry etc.  Their first impulse is to go to the fridge and indulge on foods that make them feel better. If the underlying issues are not addressed or worked out then the cycle continues.

Eating out of habit

A lot of people tend to over eat due to habit, or just seeing food and wanting it (not because they are hungry). The best example is the weekly shopping, once you bring the groceries home you tend to want to eat all the unhealthy snack foods. A habit includes watching a movie and having a bag of popcorn to go with it or having a takeout every Friday. These may not be the worst habits but when they are repeated or occur to regularly then weight gain is guaranteed.


All the examples I mentioned are reason you may be over eating but how do you overcome this? Eating little and often and portion control are the most ideal ways to avoid this happening.  Your relationship and behaviour around food is key to achieving successful weight loss.


Overeating and bad relationships with food

How can you have a bad relationship with food? Having a fear of particular food groups like carbohydrates or being overly cautious with how much sugar you ingest in a day is not a great relationship to have with your food. This can mean you move away from balanced eating and become susceptible to a continuous dieting cycle.  Counting calories is one of the most common food fears and it can lead to people becoming hungry as they are so consumed with what they are allowed to eat in a day rather than focusing on being healthy and portion control. From my personal experience I see some individuals adapt a healthy lifestyle and think their choices are the best and can be very opinionated to others about their food choices. Food is very personal to an individual so speaking to a professional about your diet can be the best method of overcoming any food fear.  You should be knowledgeable about your food choices; this will reduce the likelihood of developing a bad relationship or over eating. 


Healthy relationship with food

The best way to get into a positive mind-set regarding food is to stop focusing so much on your weight instead concentrate on improving your health, physiological wellbeing and a good relationship with food. You may need to identify why you have been overeating in the past to avoid it happening in the future. It’s important to avoid calorie restricting diets and counting your calories; this will only leave you disappointed if you don’t stick to it and the chances are you won’t be able to


Weekly weigh in clinic

Currently I am offering a weight loss program where your BMI and waist measurement is calculated and I check your weight weekly. You get tips and motivation weekly to help you lose weight all at a great weekly rate of €10 per week.


Whelehans Nutrition Service

Whelehans nutritional service is a private one to one advice service with our nutritionist Aisling Murray. Aisling’s areas of interest include weight loss management, nutrition education and food intolerance. Our nutrition service offers you the chance to change your life in a positive way by focusing on your overall wellbeing as well as the chance to follow up on your progress.


Aisling Murray has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and offers a one to one specialist nutrition service at Whelehans Pharmacy. Call Whelehans at 04493 34591 for an appointment. E-mail questions to

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